What do scrunchies and a children's book illustrator have in common? Coral reefs, of course!
To celebrate World Oceans Month, The Scrunchie Club is collaborating with children's book illustrator and artist Annie Bowler. Together, they have created an ocean-themed scrunchie to benefit the restoration of our coral reefs.
The Scrunchie Club partners with womxn and non-binary artists to design scrunchies that celebrate our differences while bringing together passionate voices on a range of causes. Each artist selects a cause they care about, and 15 percent of the profits from their design are
donated to a related organization.
The unique, ocean-themed scrunchie designed by Bowler, in collaboration with The Scrunchie Club, supports the work we do at Coral Restoration Foundation™. This colorful scrunchie launched on Monday with a portion of the profits supporting our mission to restore North America's only living barrier reef: the Florida Reef Tract.
Annie Bowler. © Annie Bowler
About the Artist
Currently residing in Washington DC, Annie Bowler strives to capture the whimsical imaginations of children, which is what she's accomplished with her ocean-themed scrunchie design. She received an MFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in 2016 and has taught art in a variety of settings from Brooklyn, New York to Yokosuka, Japan. When not drawing, Annie can be found running around with her partner and their pup Frida (Kahlo). View Bowler's work here, or follow her journey on social media.
The Srunchsea designed by Annie Bowler. © The Scrunchie Club
We greatly appreciate Bowler's commitment to ocean conservation awareness through her art and The Scrunchie Club's mission of connecting communities on important causes, like the health of our marine ecosystems. Thank you to Bowler and The Scrunchie Club for their support of Coral Restoration Foundation™! Check out the ocean-themed scrunchie here, and follow The Scrunchie Club on Instagram.
Continue reading to learn more about Annie Bowler and her connection to our marine world, which contributed to the inspiration for this ocean-themed scrunchie.
What is your earliest memory of the ocean?
My grandparents lived in the Caribbean when I was little, so we used to go and stay with them for a month every year for as long as I can remember. My earliest memories aren't super tangible but rather just the feeling of having salty skin and wind-swept hair and falling asleep to the sound of the waves. When we used to come back home after those trips, I would lie in my bed in my suburban neighborhood and pretend that the sound of the nearby traffic was the ocean.
Annie Bowler snorkeling. © Annie Bowler
What is your favorite marine creature?
So hard to choose! I have to go with sea turtles. I've had the opportunity to see them while scuba diving, and they're just so majestic and gentle.
Have you experienced a healthy coral reef ecosystem? If so where, and how did it make you feel?
I have! My husband and I lived in Asia for a while and did as much traveling as we could. We went snorkeling off the coast of Labuan Bajo, Indonesia and saw the most incredible coral reef ecosystem. It was like we were on a different planet; we couldn't believe our eyes. The colors alone inspire my work as an illustrator to this day.
Have you seen a badly degraded reef system? How did that make you feel?
About a year after our trip to Indonesia we went to Vietnam and did some snorkeling. Our hopes were high because of the amazing experience we'd had in Labuan Bajo, but the reef was almost entirely bleached and abandoned. It was such a stark contrast and really made us examine the impact we as tourists have on the ocean ecosystem.
What concerns or scares you the most about climate change?
Oh, where to begin. What I find the most concerning (and infuriating) is the vast disparities in the effects of global climate change. Studies have shown that climate change disproportionately impacts the poorest countries, despite them having contributed the least to it. Droughts, fires, monsoons, and other effects of a warming climate can strike anywhere, but those with fewer resources are hit the hardest. A significant portion of the world's population is one extreme weather event away from destitution. We're not just talking about losing property though, climate change threatens the way of life that has been passed down for generations. Our oceans have been the life-force and livelihood for communities for as long as history has been documented. Climate change is threatening to end that.
Why do you, personally, care about coral reefs?
I think it would be hard to see a thriving coral reef and come away from it not caring! From a selfish perspective, I want my children and their children to experience having their imaginations blown wide open by nature. Less selfishly, to care about coral reefs is to care about the entire environment. Coral reefs are critical to the ocean ecosystem and subsequently the functioning of a healthy planet.
Why is protecting and restoring coral reefs relevant to your brand?
I'm an artist, so my work is about creating and sharing beauty. The natural world is my biggest source of inspiration, constantly challenging and expanding my imagination. I see it as my responsibility to return the favor and do what I can to protect my muse.
Why should the average person care about coral reefs?
As I said above, to care about coral reefs is to care about the Earth as a whole. Coral reefs are an essential piece of the puzzle in creating healthy and thriving oceans, which are needed to have a balanced and stable planet. Everyone should care about coral reefs!
In your opinion, what are some of the most powerful tools at our disposal that we can apply to the mission to save coral reefs?
I'm a big believer in the power of experiential education. I watch my nieces and nephew playing in tidal pools, and I see their little brains turning and their hearts expanding. They love the ocean and they'll bring that with them into adulthood. The more we can expose people to both the beauty and the fragility of the ocean, the more likely it is they'll become advocates in their own lives and in their communities. With that being said, we need to make big structural changes and that has to happen on an institutional level. We need to harness our grassroots power to hold companies and lawmakers accountable. Social media has helped to make this sort of activism accessible to everyone.
What do you think are some of the easiest ways that the average person can join the mission to save coral reefs from extinction?
I'm definitely not an expert, but I think starting with education is a great first step! There is loads of information available from CRF™ and other places online to learn, and then turn that knowledge into action. Additionally, cutting down on plastic waste is an important thing we can all do every day to help protect the oceans.
Do you think there is hope for our coral reefs? Why?
There is hope! What choice do we have except to hope for change? What brings me hope is the passion that young people are bringing to the fight against climate change. I work with an incredible group of high school girls, and they astound me every day both with their knowledge of the climate crisis and their resolve to correct our course. Additionally, my uncle is a dive master, and I know from hearing his stories that the dive community is an impressive and passionate bunch that are great ambassadors for coral reefs.